Tomorrow the City of Eureka holds its craziest election in recent memory. You have 12 different candidates running for four different municipal offices, and it’s Eureka’s first go-around with the brand-new election system ushered in by the passage of Measure P two years ago. It’s all new and kind of chaotic, and it’s hard to know what to expect.

If you live in Eureka and you don’t yet know who to vote for — or even who you get to vote for, given the new rules — then cruise on over to our special Eureka Election 2018! page, where we’ve collated a bunch of information that should at least put you on track.

In this post, though, we’re going to take a look at the state of the Eureka electorate, and of the electorate of each of the three brand-new wards of the city at issue in tomorrow’s election, so’s we can all read tomorrow’s results as they come in with a more informed eye. (YES: The Outpost will be up and liveblogging tomorrow night, until the bitter end.)

The charts and data below are drawn from an Aug. 29 dump of the county’s database of registered voters. They’re not completely complete — new people have undoubtedly registered to vote since that date, and people have probably reregistered at different addresses — but they certainly represent the vast majority of the city’s voters.

 First up, let’s look at the city as a whole: 

  Average age Registered Voters Ballots cast
in June 2018
June Turnout % of June
Democrats 51.5 6,261 2,905 46.4% 51.8%
No Party 43.9 3,545 930 23.2% 16.6%
Republicans 57.4 2,951 1,466 49.7% 26.1%
All 50.3 13,814 5,608 40.6% 100%

Using a phone? You can scroll the table above to the left or right to see all the data.

There are more than twice as many registered Democrats in Eureka than registered Republicans, though they turn out at slightly lower rates. There are actually far more no-party “decline to state” voters than there are registered Republicans, though their turnout rate in the most recent election was dismal — so dismal that they, as a group, had less say in the election than the Republicans did.

More than 5,608 Eureka ballots will be cast this go-around, in all likelihood, as general elections usually have higher turnout than primary elections. In the 2014 general, for example, Eureka turnout was around 51.6 percent — a full 11 percentage points higher than it was in June. On the other hand, many people who cast ballots in that election didn’t bother to vote for city council or mayor. Even in the competitive races, only a little more than 90 percent of the people who voted cast a vote for city council.

The only race the city as a whole votes in, under the new “true ward” system, is the race for Mayor, where three candidates are running — Heidi Messner, Susan Seaman and Michelle Costantine. 

Seaman, the candidate endorsed by the local Democratic party, would seem to have a built-in advantage in the race — the Democratic vote is twice the Republican vote, which probably means more in these partisan times than it has at any time in the past. But Eureka’s Democrats have traditionally been a bit to the right of Democrats elsewhere, and supporters of Michelle Costantine have been working hard to paint their candidate as the race’s only true conservative (though, perhaps tellingly, she is actually a registered Democrat), and she’s been getting lots of contributions from the usual conservative-side donors.

Since candidates for municipal office in Eureka don’t have to get a majority of the vote — only the most votes — a united front of Eureka’s right might conceivably put Costantine over the top.


The lines are cleaner in Eureka’s Fifth Ward, which has only two candidates for office. (It’s the orange area in this map: Old Town to Wabash, roughly, and between C Street and the high school.)

Average age Registered Voters Ballots Cast
in June 2018
June Turnout% of June
Democrats 49.0 1,208 542 44.9% 57.9%
No Party 42.7 706 166 23.5% 17.7%
Republicans 55.9 371 160 43.1% 17.1%
All 47.7 2,526 936 37.1% 100%

Incumbent Kim Bergel has a huge head start, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans nearly three to one in the Fifth and actually turning out at slightly better rates.

Challenger Joe Bonino, endorsed by the local Republican party, will, in all likelihood, have to not only carry all his people and all the decline-to-states — he’ll have to win all the miscellaneous third-party votes and a substantial number of Democrats, as well. It will be a huge upset if he pulls it off.


The Third Ward (colored red, in the map) is by far the oldest and most conservative of the districts up for a vote this time around, and its three-way race is somewhat like the race for Mayor:

Average age Registered Voters Ballots Cast
in June 2018
June Turnout % of June electorate
Democrats 54.1 1,575 837 53.1% 49.5%
No Party 47.5 802 264 32.9% 15.6%
Republicans 58.9 1,000 524 52.4% 31.0%
All 53.5 3,576 1,692 47.3% 100%

Incumbent Natalie Arroyo won in every precinct in the city when she first ran for office in 2014, but this time it’s bound to be a harder row to hoe. Though Democrats have a plurality in the district, they’re not a majority, and they’re older and likely more conservative Democrats than elsewhere in the city. And of course the ward is much more Republican than the city at large. Some of Arroyo’s slimmest margins of victory, last time around, came from neighborhoods she is now running for reelection in.

Her best chance, probably, will be if her two opponents rob more votes from each other than they rob from her. Challenger Jeannie Breslin has been endorsed by the local Republican chapter and by Mayor Frank Jager. But the third candidate in the race, John Fullerton, has won the hearts of the mad-as-hell, not-going-to-take-it-anymore segment of the local right, who have been painting Breslin — an otherwise universally beloved personality — as a soft secret leftie dupe, and there are a good number of mad-as-hell older folk in the Third.


By far the most bonkers race to forecast in this election, though, is the race for the First Ward (purple) — the ward with the greatest number of candidates, by far the fewest number of registered voters and the worst voter participation rate besides.

  Average age Registered Voters Ballots Cast
in June 2018
June Turnout % of June
Democrats 47.9 879 338 38.5% 56.0%
No Party 39.8 556 114 20.5% 18.9%
Republicans 52.4 264 105 39.8% 17.4%
All 45.7 1,884 604 32.1% 100%

Only 1,884 people were registered to vote in the First Ward as of last August — a little more than half as many as were registered in the Third Ward, despite having more or less the same population. Only 604 of those people cast a ballot in the June election — a good deal less than half of the number of ballots cast in the Third. And there are four candidates running for the seat — a progressive, a Democrat, a Republican and what you might, for lack of a better term, call a neighborhood candidate.

There will probably be more than 604 ballots cast in the First in this election. Not only is this election more directly important to the citizens of the ward, at least a couple of the candidates have been busy registering new voters there. It’s probably safe to bank on 800-1,000 votes. If that splits four ways or anything close to it, the eventual winner could bear away the crown with a shockingly few number of supporters.

We’ll see tomorrow, when — as we mentioned — the Outpost will be doing its usual election night thing, with reports and pictures from election night parties and all the local results as they come in. We might even take note of a national race or two.

Join us! The first results — those of absentee votes cast early — should be released shortly after 8 p.m. After that we’ll all be waiting as the ballot boxes make their way back to County Elections HQ, there to be tallied. The final tallies haven’t arrived until after midnight in recent years, but this year — since all the most closely watched races are in Eureka, close to the Election Office — we might know something more definitive earlier in the night.